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Community members gather to pay respects at Vernon Winfrey's visitation

Community members pay their respects at Vernon Winfrey's visitation
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 20:19:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One by one, people paid their respects to Vernon Winfrey at his visitation in North Nashville. Winfrey, Oprah's father, died earlier this week following a battle with cancer.

"He was a great barber," said Norma Ochoa, who was family friends with Winfrey. "Everyone knew him for his barber shop, Winfrey's Barber Shop."

Years ago, a visit with Winfrey usually meant stopping by his barbershop.

"[My] First haircut was from Vernon," said East Nashville resident Ronald Gooch.

The master barber became a mentor to Gooch after 49 years of friendship.

"Well, he gave me candy and gum at the end," said Gooch. "As a kid, who would say no to candy and gum? And he always gave you a good haircut and gave you good advice as I was growing up."

For Ochoa, that advice usually came with a side of waffles.

"Vernon's favorite place to eat breakfast was the Waffle House," she said. "I would occasionally just go there and there he was sitting, and occasionally he'd sit over with me at my table and we'd talk."

Winfrey was a family friend. He even spoke at her father's funeral.

"When he talked to you it was always a pleasant joke or something that he would say — just a funny person," Ochoa said.

Winfrey served as a deacon for 45 years and led the community as a council member from 1975 to 1991.

Now, as the community says goodbye, Winfrey's lessons will carry on.

"It's a lot of good advice," said Gooch. "Stay strong, believe in the good Lord, treat people the way you wanted to be treated and life will be good for you."